Travel insurance is a type of personal coverage used to cover oddball travel expenses. It covers things like medical bills if you’re sick or injured on your trip. Some policies will also pay back deposits you’ll lose on airfare or hotel accommodations, if you’re forced to cancel your trip.
You can typically arrange short-term travel insurance to begin when you leave for your trip, and last only as long as you’re traveling. This insurance is often available as an add-on to all-inclusive trips like cruises. But you can also purchase it for just about any trip through specialized insurers or some traditional insurance companies.
You can find travel insurance policies to cover any number of risks, often morbid ones. The most common covered expenses include:
- Travel-related medical expenses
- Emergency repatriation travel expenses
- Repatriation of remains
- Accidental death or injury benefits
- Overseas funeral expenses
- Baggage loss
- Costs to replace essential items
- Legal assistance
You may also be able to purchase additional coverage for preexisting conditions, extreme sports, and travel to countries considered high-risk due to weather or terrorism activity. You can even purchase kidnap and ransom insurance!
Is it really worth it?
So is travel insurance really worth it? Well, it depends on your situation.
First, consider what events you’d like to insure against, and how likely those events are to occur. Check out the US State Department’s travel warnings when planning your trip. It will tell you which types of travel-related risks you might encounter in different countries.
Depending on the list, you might be most worried about risky events like bad weather or terrorist threats, which could cut your trip short. Or maybe you’re just concerned about more run-of-the-mill travel issues, like losing your luggage or getting food poisoning.
Make a list of what you’re most concerned about, and then do some digging. Find out if you already have insurance that would cover those events. Here are some examples of places to look:
- Homeowner’s/Renter’s Insurance: These policies will often cover property losses if you’re away from your home. So if you’re concerned about losing or damaging valuable equipment, check if you already have a policy that would cover your property.
- Airline Policies: If your bags are lost or damaged during travel, airlines should reimburse you. Of course, this can sometimes be a pain, but it’s also basically free insurance.
- Health Insurance: Check your health insurance coverage to see what it might look like if you became ill or were injured outside of the country. Sometimes policies may still pay for emergency care. If you’re not sure how your health insurance would work, call your insurance company. Ask what would happen in the event of an emergency department visit in a foreign country. What would happen in the event of an extended hospital stay? (Note: Medicare rarely covers overseas expenses, so Medicare recipients may need travel insurance.)
- Host Country Laws: At times, emergency care in a country to which you are traveling could actually be much cheaper than what you’re used to. You may not need insurance for potential health events if you’re traveling to a country with this type of healthcare.
- Life Insurance: Your life insurance policy should cover you for normal events, such as an accident or health concern, even if you’re traveling. However, some policies have exceptions for natural disasters, abductions, and terrorist attacks. In this case, you might want to consider additional travel insurance if these are risks you might face.
- Credit Cards: When you book your travel on a credit card, you’ll often get some additional protection. Many cards include protection for cancellations, and may even offer additional lost baggage protection.
- Club Memberships: Like credit cards, your membership to certain clubs could come with travel insurance-like benefits. Check with these clubs to see if they cover any of the events that concern you.
- Cancellation Policies: Check out the cancellation policies for all of your travel and accommodation plans. If the cancellation fees are relatively small, insuring against the possibility is likely a waste of cash.
- Airline and Railway Policies: When you’re traveling by air or rail, weather events and mechanical errors can postpone or cancel your travel plans. In this case, understand the airline or railway’s policies. They’ll usually refund the cost of your tickets. But will they cover additional expenses you might incur from missing your connection or your hotel check in? It depends.
That’s a pretty big list of other places you might find the coverage you’re looking for. It’ll take some time to sort through all these potential benefits. But doing so can keep you from paying for an unnecessary additional travel insurance plan.
But what if you get through these benefits and decide that you still need travel insurance, after all? In that case, use the steps below to find the plan that works best for you.
How to find traveler’s insurance
First, it’s always wise to shop around. Typically, travel agents offer traveler’s insurance. But they usually charge hefty fees and may not have great rates to begin with.
It’s often best to go through a third-party agent or insurance company.
A reputable agent can be a good place to begin, since they can help you look at your existing coverage to see if you need more. They can also help you sort through exactly how much insurance you might need.
Another option, though, is to shop online. Just like car insurance and homeowner’s insurance, you can shop around for travel insurance with a few keystrokes. Sites like insuremytrip.com let you compare various policies and their costs fairly quickly.
Here’s an example of policies and costs you might find there:
Prices vary depending on your trip
Of course, it’s important to note that the more likely you are to need travel insurance, the more it’s probably going to cost.
This is simply how the insurance game works. You’ll pay a higher premium if it’s more likely the insurer will need to pay out a claim.
Also, the more coverage you need, the more you’ll pay. Getting only medical and dental coverage or only accidental death coverage is much cheaper than comprehensive coverage.
Just by way of example, here are some policy costs I found from insuremytrip.com. I made all of the trips include two adults, aged 45 and 50. All of the trips cost $10,000 and spanned the week of August 5-12, 2017. So, we’ll look at how different levels of coverage and destinations change the pricing.
|Paris, France||Comprehensive||$304.50||CSA Travel Protection|
|Paris, France||Medical||$29.60||Seven Corners|
|Paris, France||Evacuation||$135.00||OnCall International|
|Paris, France||Accidental Death||$14.50||IMT Services|
|Qatar||Accidental Death||$14.50||IMT Services|
As you can see, pricing seems to depend more on the cost of travel than the destination. But it’s important to check the policy details to ensure that it covers everything you want.
Learn More: Is Travel Hacking Too Good To Be True?
So what about you? Will you buy traveler’s insurance next time you take a trip?